Tag Archives: sales

3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Alignment

6 February 2017 smashdeck Comments Off on 3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Alignment Sales Growth

I have a unique perspective about sales and marketing alignment having worked on both sides of the table. Sales perspective is that marketing isn’t working hard enough to fill their pipeline and marketing thinks sales is lazy. It’s true. Just ask about any salesperson or marketer and they will tell you the same.

Instead of living in mutual dissatisfaction, try these 3 steps for sales and marketing alignment:

1. Set Expectations

Initially sales and marketing should define their buyer personas, together, not separately. A clear understanding of personas and ideal sales targets will lead to less frustration later on. There will be no squawking about unqualified leads from either team if personas and sales targets are mutually identified and agreed to.

Identify what a Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) are. There is often disconnect between sales and marketing teams about when a Lead should be converted to a MQL or what exactly happens when a Lead becomes a SQL. Define the process, draw out a workflow, and agree to it just as you have done with buyer personas.

2. Align Goals

Miscommunication is unfortunately the downfall of many relationships – sales and marketing included. Save yourself the grief and nip it in the bud. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot simplifies this process and communicates the advantages of marketing, specifically when it comes to desired outcomes.

sales-marketing-alignmentNext, marketing and sales should create a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A SLA is an agreement between the two teams on what leads marketing needs to produce to reach a sales goal. A SLA isn’t a contract. It’s a working document. It should be looked at, updated, and refined continuously.

The process of working together on results is sometimes more important than the results themselves. This especially is true in start-ups. I mean neither sales nor marketing understands how the pipeline will develop. As long as both teams are striving for the same goal – more sales, then the middle and top of the funnel will come into focus. Here is a link to a great article that discusses a framework for startup marketing effectiveness.

3. Close The Loop

Email Communication is a simple yet effective method to communicate with the sales team about pipeline development. HubSpot has a great feature for this. Marketing can trigger an email to sales once a prospect reaches a certain stage in the email nurture sequence. Regardless of the action sales takes next, email will keep the sales team in the loop about what marketing is doing to generate a pipeline.

Closed loop reporting is such an important step in defining marketing effectiveness that if a marketer is not closing the loop in today’s marketing automation world he is walking himself out of a job.

If you work in sales or marketing and your teams are not aligned, step up and take action!

Smashdeck is looking for sales and marketers who would like to be interviewed for its SmashUp Marketing Podcast. If you have a marketing campaign that you are dying to tell the world about we want to know. Learn more here.

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Bye-Bye Traditional Sales Organizations

7 May 2015 Christina Hall Leave a comment Sales Growth

This post had to be written. The role of sales will never perish. However, the role of traditional selling will. Companies need sales people as much as they need a product or service. Sales is embedded into a company’s framework from day 1. Sometimes – a lot of times, it’s the founders doing sales and marketing to build a runway sufficient to hire a sales team. Selling is important but not in the way you think.

Traditional sales roles have been replaced. Traditional sales as seen in movies like Glengarry Glen Ross, Boiler Room, show sales as a numbers game. There has never been a time in history when buyers are more in control of the buying decision than right now. Many complex sales transactions require problem solvers and not Wheeler Dealers. A sales person could get away with being a Wheeler Dealer 20-years ago, but not today.

So what can traditional sales organizations do?

1. They can adopt new sales techniques.

One of the more important of these is to stop the sales pitch and start a conversation. Remember the buyer is in control now. And they are going to make decisions on their timeline and with a well-rounded education of what’s available to them. The sales landscape is flat and there is no hiding it.

2. They can work with marketing on generating new leads.

Marketing and sales have long been at odds. Since the buyer makes his or her own decisions now, why not have marketing help you qualify your prospects? This seems logical considering that marketing can get a buyer further down that sales funnel without ever picking up a phone. We do this at Smashdeck Marketing and it works.

3. Respect your time, respect the buyer’s time.

There is a term in sales called “next”, which just means on to the next prospect. Don’t waste time seeding prospects that have no intention of converting. As in point #2, rely on marketing to do this heavy lifting for you. Traditional sales would start and end the conversation, and everywhere in between. What if I told you that you don’t have to cold call anymore like its 1960’s. Life becomes better. Sales increase. Management is happy. Simple.

Adapt or die. I know it sounds harsh. But if you haven’t adapted to new marketing and sales techniques, you have probably already seen your revenue slipping, your market share eroding and your sales team becoming less enthusiastic about their role in the organization.

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What you can do to make sure hospital buyers find you 

27 April 2015 Christina Hall Leave a comment Healthcare, Sales Growth

A company that sells into hospitals and healthcare systems understand complex sales transactions. Hospital buyers and supply chain executives are always looking for cost saving opportunities. However, new product initiatives are time consuming to implement because of multiple decision makers and committee approvals.

Consider the perspective of the modern healthcare supply chain executive who is tasked with sourcing innovative products while also finding cost saving solutions. If he or she is looking for a new vendor, a capital asset, or a multi-department purchase, then research is inevitable. One role of marketing is to help these decision makers find you.

So what can you do?

Make sure your testimonials and case studies stand out

Testimonials and case studies are one of the more important marketing assets a company can have. Prospects love to see prior success because it means you understand their problem and can provide a solution.

Create helpful blog content

A blog article can be no different than a salesperson talking to a prospect or sending a prospect an email. The difference is that content lives on the web, and can be searched. Can you afford not to be found online?

Arm the sales team with content that supports the unique selling points of the product or the brand proposition of the company

I am not just talking about a product brochure that lists features and benefits but advanced content, such as white papers or guides that speak to multiple buyer personas and can actually influence a purchase.

Clinicians need different information than a purchasing manager does to make a buying decision.

Sometimes the sales conversation stalls if there is no additional information a sales representative can provide to help the prospect move forward. I wrote about this recently in another post.

Content can be used to help a company get found in search and it can also be used to facilitate a sales transaction.

We all make decisions based on the information we read, hear and see. Hospital and health system executives are no different.

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The “Hey just checking in” Sales Call

9 April 2015 smashdeck Leave a comment Sales Growth

You know the story. Jake is a sales rep looking to sell his medical disposable product to Jan, the Purchasing Manager for a local hospital. Jake calls Jan every other week to say, “Hey just checking in.” What he’s really saying is “I know you haven’t made a decision yet on whether to purchase our product but I thought I’d call anyways at the off chance you have.” Not the best use of time for either party.

However, this sort of thing happens all day long. Why not provide Jan more information that will help her and her team through the sales process? This is when educational content that drives prospects into the consideration stage really helps. A case study, for example, can help Jan to conceptually understand what Jake’s product can really do for her and the company. The way to avoid the just ‘checking in call’ is to nurture Jan with valuable content that will earn her trust and value Jake’s company as a solution provider rather than a product pusher.

To properly assess what stage a prospect is in the sales funnel, take a look at these three criteria:

Develop a lead scoring system:

A lead scoring system scores your leads based on their actions. For example: when a prospect downloads a white paper, they receive a different score than if they attended a webinar.

Leads will make their way through your sales process by educating themselves with your material. At a certain point you will want to “trigger” a direct action, a personal email or a phone call. A lead scoring system can help you determine when this ‘right time’ is.

Develop a content strategy:

There is no doubt about the power of content. Without a content strategy you won’t understand your audience, which makes it hard to communicate.

A content strategy accomplishes the following:

  • Identifies your target audience or multiple personas
  • Gives you a genuine understanding of your customers including their behaviors, their needs and the best way to reach them
  • Helps you develop a competitive analysis so you can identify your competition and differentiate your brand

Set up email nurturing sequences:

Lead nurturing is as, if not more important than getting the lead in the first place. Most sales, for B2B companies especially, aren’t transactional. The first time a user learns about your brand, is most likely not the same time they’re ready to make a purchase. Lead nurturing helps to fill in the gap. The “just checking in” sales call should be replaced with a lead-nurture sequence that provides relevant and timely information that nurtures the user to that specific buying stage.

Just look at these stats:

  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research)
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research)

Jake is a happy camper if inbound marketing can help him avoid the ‘just checking in’ sales call. He can then focus his time on closing the prospects who are actually ready to buy.

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Market Your Content Like Kraft to Improve ROI

23 March 2015 smashdeck Leave a comment Content Marketing

Crossing numbers and names off a call list is a thing of the past. Not too long ago sales people used this tactic to prospect new clients. I admit to cold calling, sometimes all day long. Although the skill itself has tremendous value to a young 20-something, I remember thinking there must be a better way.

Fact: If a company isn’t focusing on content it’s already at a disadvantage.

Digital Marketers are now an integral part of the sales cycle. consider that 90% of B2B buyers use search in the research process and look at 12 different suppliers before engaging with a brand.  The more attractive and targeted content a company creates, the better it’s positioned to drive SEO, to be viewed as a thought leader amid competition, and to drive users to its website. Both B2B and B2C. Content can quickly become a self-serving tool when buyers need to make a purchase decision.

Companies that do content well: HubSpot and Kraft

HubSpot is one of the most recognized brands in inbound marketing software for small and enterprise businesses – and they practice what they preach. In 2012, Hubspot created 157 ebooks. I think I downloaded about half. A shining example of inbound in action.

Even traditional companies like Kraft are jumping aboard the inbound bandwagon. Julie Fleischer, the company’s director of data, content and media, says that Kraft is “relentlessly pursuing worthiness.” Kraft is pragmatic, paying only to distribute meaningful content.

Any good writer knows that there’s nothing worse than having your name attached to a piece of garbage. Quality writers and marketers won’t put out anything but the best, which is why companies should only hire quality writers to produce their content.

But writing is only the first step. Distribution is the key to getting an audience to actually find and consume your content. From social, email, community portals to partner websites, there have never been more channels to choose from. But the goal is not just to put your content out on every channel available – it’s to determine which channel makes the most sense for your marketing and determine which one has the highest lead to conversion rate.

The point: It’s never too late to implement digital marketing into any sales process.

Visit our website to see how SmashDeck Marketing can help you dramatically improve your Content Marketing ROI and to schedule a free consultation.

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